98 Warriors make a difference at Pandan Mangrove

98 participants tackled marine debris at Pandan mangroves this morning – the combined volunteer force hailed from Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Singapore Police Force (SPF) Squad, independent sign-up and the Raffles Museum Toddycats and Department of the Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Together they cleared 1.7 tonnes of trash in just 90 minutes!

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This is the second year that ICCS has tackled Pandan mangroves to contribute to a healthier condition of this tiny, rare but amazing stretch of mangrove in the south-west of Singapore. More abandoned tyres (25) were cleared this year, plus a huge amount of accumulated trash including plastic bags (2,744), food wrappers (835) and styrofoam pieces (757) that still persist on this fragementary habitat.

The clean up process at the site was tough and slow compared to a beach clean up site due to the difficult terrain. Many participants trudged knee-deep in the mud just to lay their hands on the trash pieces that pepper the entire mangrove forest floor.

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The SPF team had an interesting encounter – they saw a snake (probably a harmless dog-faced water snake) as they cleared some tyres but, of course, they were unfazed about it and continued.

Despite all the hard work, everyone of us ended the session in good cheer, having known that we have made a positive difference for the mangrove and its inhabitants!

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See the photo album on Flickr – link.

The Straits Times reports ICCS 2008: “New cleanup site: Pandan Mangrove”

“New cleanup site: Pandan Mangrove,” by Shobana Kesava. The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2008. [pdf]

ICCS Pandan 2008 - photo in ST
Among the peculiar items found at Pandan Mangrove off the West Coast was a muddy toilet cistern, probably washed up by the tides. — PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNETH PINTO

SITUATED off the West Coast, Pandan Mangrove has become the latest addition to the coastline being cleaned up by International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.

Fresh pickings could be the main reason for the unusually high number of bulky items found on just 350m of shoreline. More than the average number of tyres and building materials were found stuck in the mud.

In all, 3,448 pieces of trash were collected by corporate volunteers from Oil Spill Response and East Asia Response Limited (OSRL/EARL) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore – both new to coastal cleanups – and veterans from the Raffles Museum Toddycats of the National University of Singapore, a non-governmental organisation headed by zoologist N. Sivasothi, who coordinates the annual event.

‘We wanted to give them this fresh site, even though they have never done this work before, because they had a great ‘can-do’ spirit and were serious about wanting to do a good job,’ he said.

‘We wanted to cover only a small site because we wanted to minimise the damage to the site,’ said site captain Kelly Ong, 27, a marine biologist.

The volunteers found almost 1,300 plastic bags, 820 food wrappers and more than 440 glass bottles.

‘The most peculiar items found included traffic barrier lights, half of a vacuum cleaner, a rice cooker, a wooden statue of a smiling Buddha, a golf bag and a lot of plastic pipes,’ she said.

A human chain was formed to remove 39 tyres, which easily weighed about 740kg.

Ms Ong hopes this will reduce the places where rainwater can collect, as these can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Mr Wilson Tan, 28, who headed the OSRL/EARL team, said he had been searching for a way to help his company reduce its carbon footprint.

‘I went online to check if anyone was cleaning the beaches because the footprint is worse if trash is left in the open. It affects the mangroves and the marine life,’ he said.

SHOBANA KESAVA

Note – the volunteers mentioned are Site Captains of Sembawang Beach (Yasim), Kranji mangroves (Wei Siong) and Pandan mangroves (Kelly) and cleanup organiser Wilson.

The Straits Times reports ICCS 2008: “S’pore coastline getting dirtier”

ICCS Pandan 2008 ST article

“S’pore coastline getting dirtier,” by Shobana Kesava. The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2008. More than 9,750kg of trash cleared during cleanup in September [pdf]

DESPITE public anti-littering campaigns and annual cleanups involving thousands of people, Singapore’s coasts are dirtier than they were five years ago, according to new data.

Over 9,755kg of waste, from plastic bags to refrigerators, was fished off beaches and mangroves during a mammoth cleanup in September, almost 400kg more than in 2007.

The cleanup was organised by International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) and was part of a worldwide drive.

Locally, over 2,500 people – from schoolchildren to business executives and civil servants – took part in the event, fanning out to coastal areas from Changi to Jurong.

The results of the cleanup were recently computed by the entirely volunteer-run ICCS.

Lead coordinator N. Sivasothi said he was not surprised by the volume of trash collected.

He described the cleanup as a stopgap measure, saying the only way to cut down on beach-front trash is to encourage conservation.

‘If we use less, that will mean fewer things we need to dispose of. Proper disposal is important so that trash doesn’t end up in drains which wash into the sea,’ he said.

This year, about 2,530 volunteers participated in the Sept 20 cleanup, down from 2,860 last year. Organisers said the numbers were higher when volunteers who worked on other days of the year were included.

The results of the cleanup show trash trends have varied little over the few years, said Mr Sivasothi.

‘It would take an enormous shift in behaviour to change the kind of rubbish we find. I’d be surprised if there was a significant change,’ he said.

Plastic bags, straws and styrofoam have been a constant on shorelines here and abroad for years. Larger items, such as refrigerators and tyres, have also been found, according to organisers.

While the September cleanup shows littering habits remain a problem, volunteers are undeterred.

Kranji Mangrove volunteer Cheong Wei Siong, 20, said he has seen the shoreline become progressively cleaner over the years.

‘I always feel good visiting the mangroves because they are much cleaner, and I played an important role in it,’ he said.

Mr Yasim Abidin, a volunteer who has cleaned the shores for 10 years, said he is not discouraged by the consistently high garbage load.

Every year, the 29-year-old gets 80 children to pair up with Nanyang Polytechnic students to help clean the shoreline. ‘It’s our small contribution to Singapore and hopefully the children will take the message home and into their future,’ he said.

Registration for next year’s International Coastal Cleanup will open in March at the website http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg

skesava@sph.com.sg


“New cleanup site: Pandan Mangrove,” by Shobana Kesava. The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2008. [pdf]

ICCS Pandan 2008 - photo in ST
Among the peculiar items found at Pandan Mangrove off the West Coast was a muddy toilet cistern, probably washed up by the tides. — PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNETH PINTO

SITUATED off the West Coast, Pandan Mangrove has become the latest addition to the coastline being cleaned up by International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.

Fresh pickings could be the main reason for the unusually high number of bulky items found on just 350m of shoreline. More than the average number of tyres and building materials were found stuck in the mud.

In all, 3,448 pieces of trash were collected by corporate volunteers from Oil Spill Response and East Asia Response Limited (OSRL/EARL) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore – both new to coastal cleanups – and veterans from the Raffles Museum Toddycats of the National University of Singapore, a non-governmental organisation headed by zoologist N. Sivasothi, who coordinates the annual event.

‘We wanted to give them this fresh site, even though they have never done this work before, because they had a great ‘can-do’ spirit and were serious about wanting to do a good job,’ he said.

‘We wanted to cover only a small site because we wanted to minimise the damage to the site,’ said site captain Kelly Ong, 27, a marine biologist.

The volunteers found almost 1,300 plastic bags, 820 food wrappers and more than 440 glass bottles.

‘The most peculiar items found included traffic barrier lights, half of a vacuum cleaner, a rice cooker, a wooden statue of a smiling Buddha, a golf bag and a lot of plastic pipes,’ she said.

A human chain was formed to remove 39 tyres, which easily weighed about 740kg.

Ms Ong hopes this will reduce the places where rainwater can collect, as these can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Mr Wilson Tan, 28, who headed the OSRL/EARL team, said he had been searching for a way to help his company reduce its carbon footprint.

‘I went online to check if anyone was cleaning the beaches because the footprint is worse if trash is left in the open. It affects the mangroves and the marine life,’ he said.

SHOBANA KESAVA

Note – the volunteers mentioned are Site Captains of Sembawang Beach (Yasim), Kranji mangroves (Wei Siong) and Pandan mangroves (Kelly) and cleanup organiser Wilson.

The first Pandan Mangrove cleanup was a success!

Pandan Mangroves

The first Pandan mangroves was tackled by participants from first-time organisers Oil Spill Response and East Asia Response Limited (OSREARL) and Wild Life Reserves Singapore (WRS). Accompanied by Raffles Museum Toddycats from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the 53 volunteers collected and cleared a total of 1.37 tonnes of trash.

Gearing into action in the fresh morning air at 7.45am, the participants picked their way through the delicate terrain of mangrove saplings and breathing roots. The items that dominated the terrain were plastic bags (1,296), food wrappers (826) and beverage bottles (444). But there were some peculiar items found, and these included traffic barrier lights, half of a vacuum cleaner, a rice cooker, a wooden statue of smiling Buddha, a golf bag and a lot of plastic pipes.

The mangrove resident that attracted the most attention was a pair of horseshoe crabs that were found in the trash disposal path – too dangerous for the coupling pair so they were transported to the opposite bank where we had already finished cleaning.

Only a small part of the mangrove was cleared this first year in order to manage impact to the site. And in the areas we cleared, some things were left behind -the very heavy compressed gas cylinders and trash that were intertwined with the mangrove vegetation. One thing we could not bear to leave behind were a bunch of tyres we had observed during the recce. Just as we were relaxing after the cleanup, a chain-gang was initiated and 39 tyres were removed, which weighed an estimated 744kg (they must have weighed much more!) This would help reduce mosquito-dwelling freshwater at the site.

The decision to tackle Pandan Mangrove was made only two week earlier – however, last minute requests for trash disposal was met with very kindly by National Environment Agency and Sembenviro who sent a truck to collect the more than 100 bags of trash and the many bulky items left behind at that quiet bus stop along Jalan Buroh!

Kelly Ong,
West Zone Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

The trash load from Pandan

39 Tyres Taken Out of Pandan Mangroves!

The 53 participants emerged out of Pandan Mangroves with 1.37 tonnes of trash that included 744kg of tyres (a very conservative estimate), about 1,300 plastic bags, 800 food wrappers and more than 400 plastic bottles! They had an early start at 7:45am, and so were the first to report their data, and now they have trooped off for lunch.
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Posted by email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (posterous)

Pandan Mangrove (submitted by Kelly Ong)

This will be the first time in 17 years that the ICCS team would be bringing the cleanup to Pandan mangrove, a narrow strip of mangrove forest left in the south-west of Singapore.

The site contains a high amount of accumulated trash in the deeper parts of the estuary inlet. There are also lots of mosquitoes in tide pools and we will have to look out for snakes.

A team of about 60 – 80 from 3 groups – Oil Spill Response and East Asia Response Limited, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and National University of Singapore (Raffles Museum Toddycats & friends) – will become the pioneers to tackle this site!

A recce was conducted on 13 Sept by the organisers, Sivasothi, ICCS West Zone Captain Kelly Ong and Assistant Kah Ming. Expect difficult terrain, lots of delicate air roots to take care over and no shelter or toilets. Volunteers invited to the event have to come prepared for action!

This is the first of several years of clean ups to ensure he remaining Pandan River mangroves “breathe” again.

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Recce season ending, now for action!

Things are heating up and ICCS kicks off with Loyang mangroves being tackled by Woodlands Ring Secondary this afternoon!

Most of the preliminary recces by Zone and Site Captains had been conducted over a month now and this is the last weekend to roundup the final recces.

The Buloh-Kranji team met today, as is traditional, and I went to Pandan mangroves in the mid-morning. Tomorrow morning, Dinesh will be conducting a recce at Pulau Ubin.

Pandan mangroves is a new site and the inner reaches are, like most mangrove sites, heavily laden with a historical load. This site has lots of mozzies and some snakes too, in addition to the trash so it is a determined crew that will be going in to tackle the historical load there.

Our new Zone Captain (West), Kelly Ong, will be learning the ropes with this site during ICCS 2008.


Pandan mangroves recce with Wilson Tan (OREARL), Otterman,
Desmond Ling & Lucia Meijer (Wildlife Reserves Singapore)
and Teo Kah Ming (Raffles Museum Toddycats). Photo by Kelly Ong.


Pandan mangroves. Photo by Kelly Ong.